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Inspired by trying to answer Is a Living Being a Poor Choice for a Horcrux?. Spoilers for book 7.

We know that when Voldemort "killed" Harry Potter, this destroyed the fragment of Voldemort's soul that was connected to Harry making him the 7th Horcrux.

Would the 8th fragment of soul in him be destroyed if he had been killed by some other means (say, a stray Avada spell during the Battle of Hogwarts, or drowned under the ice trying to retrieve the Sword)?

I'm looking for canonically supported answer, not simply speculation.

7

Yes

I started typing up a giant comparison between Quirrel, Nagini, and Harry, but I don't think we'll need that here.

How do you destroy a Horcrux?

‘It has to be something so destructive that the Horcrux can’t repair itself. Basilisk venom only has one antidote, and it’s incredibly rare' - 'phoenix tears,’ said Harry, nodding.

So why if Harry died normally, would he no longer be a horcrux?

Because of this quote from Rowling.

Q: When Harry was stabbed by a basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets, since he was a Horcrux, shouldn't it have been destroyed then?

JKR: I have been asked that a lot. Harry was exceptionally fortunate in that he had Fawkes. So before he could be destroyed without repair, which is what is necessary to destroy a horcrux, he was mended. However, I made sure that Fawkes wasn't around the second time a Horcrux got stabbed by a basilisk fang, so the poison did its work and it was irreparable within a short period of time.... I established early in the book, Hermione says that you destroy a Horcrux by using something so powerful that there's no remedy. But she does say there is a remedy for basilisk poison but of course it has to be administered immediately and when they stab the cup later - boy I'm really blowing this for anyone who hasn't finished the book - there's Fawkes, is my answer. And thank you for giving me a chance to say that because people have argued that quite a lot.

So here Harry was going to be destroyed beyond repair, aka, he was going to die. Harry's personal death, was the destruction that was needed for the removal of Voldemort's soul fragment. His death, not the presence of basilisk venom in his body, that just happened to be this particular cause of death. His body would have still remained intact, so at least for Harry the soul was needed for voldemort's soul to remain attached.

Now we are only left with speculating on whether or not the protective spells on the body of a true living horcrux block "normal" death. But since the question already assumes they DID die a normal death, we need not worry about this aspect further.

5

I don't think a stray Avada or an accident or Ebola or whatever would have killed Harry while he still had that eighth piece of Voldemort's soul inside of him. I realize this is different to your question, which asks specifically if Harry had been killed, but I don't think Harry could have been killed by any means while Voldemort was still alive.

As long as Voldemort himself was alive, Harry could not die, because Voldemort tethered Harry's life to his own when he used Harry's blood (specifically) in the resurrection potion in Goblet of Fire. The protective enchantments that flowed through Harry's blood, via Lily's sacrifice, now flowed within Voldemort's veins, creating a reciprocal, symbiotic connection between Harry and Voldemort. From Deathly Hallows:

‘But if Voldemort used the Killing Curse,’ Harry started again, ‘and nobody died for me this time – how can I be alive?’

‘I think you know,’ said Dumbledore. ‘Think back. Remember what he did, in his ignorance, in his greed and his cruelty.’

[...]

‘He took my blood,’ said Harry.

‘Precisely!’ said Dumbledore. ‘He took your blood and rebuilt his living body with it! Your blood in his veins, Harry, Lily’s protection inside both of you! He tethered you to life while he lives!’

‘I live ... while he lives? But I thought ... I thought it was the other way round! I thought we both had to die? Or is it the same thing?

[...]

‘He took your blood believing it would strengthen him. He took into his body a tiny part of the enchantment your mother laid upon you when she died for you. His body keeps her sacrifice alive, and while that enchantment survives, so do you and so does Voldemort’s one last hope for himself.’

[...]

‘What you must understand, Harry, is that you and Lord Voldemort have journeyed together into realms of magic hitherto unknown and untested. But here is what I think happened, and it is unprecedented, and no wandmaker could, I think, ever have predicted it or explained it to Voldemort.

‘Without meaning to, as you now know, Lord Voldemort doubled the bond between you when he returned to a human form. A part of his soul was still attached to yours, and, thinking to strengthen himself, he took a part of your mother’s sacrifice into himself. If he could only have understood the precise and terrible power of that sacrifice, he would not, perhaps, have dared to touch your blood ... but then, if he had been able to understand, he could not be Lord Voldemort, and might never have murdered at all.'

Deathly Hallows - Pages 567-569 - British Hardcover

It would be only after both the eighth piece of Voldemort's soul was destroyed and Voldemort himself was dead that Harry would become mortal and vulnerable to death once again. Does this explain how Harry could manage to live through, say, being decapitated, or having a twelve-ton portion of the Hogwarts castle fall on top of him while Voldemort was still alive? No. But this is what canon says regarding Harry's mortality and susceptibility to death in general. The eighth portion of Voldemort's soul inside of Harry must be destroyed by Voldemort himself, so I believe the answer to your question is no.

‘So the boy ... the boy must die?’ asked Snape, quite calmly.

‘And Voldemort himself must do it, Severus. That is essential.’

Another long silence. Then Snape said, ‘I thought ... all these years ... that we were protecting him for her. For Lily.’

‘We have protected him because it has been essential to teach him, to raise him, to let him try his strength,’ said Dumbledore, his eyes still tight shut. ‘Meanwhile, the connection between them grows ever stronger, a parasitic growth: sometimes I have thought he suspects it himself. If I know him, he will have arranged matters so that when he does set out to meet his death, it will, truly, mean the end of Voldemort.’

Deathly Hallows - Page 551 - British Hardcover

  • 3
    I'm sorry, I think I disagree. "The protective enchantments that flowed through Harry's blood, via Lily's sacrifice, now flowed within Voldemort's veins" seems to me to be specifically related to protecting Harry from damage done by Voldemort - Lily's sacrifice was NOT a universal "IDDQD"; and the only thing that Voldemort taking the blood into himself did was to extend the action of the protection but NOT change the quality of it. I'll ask as a separate question – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 5 '12 at 13:47
  • I'm not sure what an IDDQD is, but I do see your point. If you can demonstrate that to me through canon examples, it would be excellent food for thought. You could ask it as a separate question, sure, but you could also just reference canon here. I'd really love to listen to your answer. :) – Slytherincess Jan 5 '12 at 15:59
  • OMG! You never played Doom? google.com/#hl=en&q=iddqd – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 5 '12 at 16:08
  • I will try to either ask or answer tomorrow or on the weekend. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 5 '12 at 16:09
  • 1
    Actually, I think it's explicit that ONLY Voldy can't hurt Harry – Sphoorthy Nutulapati Apr 20 '16 at 15:48
1

The inanimate horcruxes in the books appear to have strong protections - which is why it took so much effort on behalf of our heroes to destroy them.

It could well be that Harry was also similarly protected (it would go a long way to explain him surviving as much as he did through his time at Hogwarts) - so maybe the ways you suggest he might have been killed would have somehow rebounded or otherwise been prevented.

Unless there is some Word of God about the matter, I don't think there is anything covered in the books regarding this possibility.

  • 1
    I don't think Horcruxes automatically get protective enchantments. In Deathly Hallows, Hermione says (on how to destroy a Horcrux), "['Secrets of the Darkest Art'] warns Dark wizards how strong they have to make the enchantments on [Horcruxes]". (U.S. first paperback printing, p. 103) There seems to be a standard level of protective enchantments for a Horcrux, but the fact the book has to go into details about the protection required suggests that it isn't automatic. – Joe White Jan 16 '12 at 21:47

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